by Stanley Azuakola
Last Sunday, online newspaper, Premium Times published a report in which it alleged among other things that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, breached code of conduct regulations. Sanusi was also alleged to be involved in nepotism as well as adultery.
The reaction to the report by Nigerians have been mixed. A Caine Prize nominee, Elnathan John described the investigation by the paper as ‘sloppy’. Many others shared his view, saying that the report was short on verifiable details.
Some however argued that the paper raised legitimate concerns which the governor has to account for, including how he allegedly used taxpayers’ money and spent work hours pursuing his romance with Mrs. Maryam Yaro.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has however forwarded a letter to the Managing Director of Premium Times and also attached documents, in a bid to debunk the report. The letter which was signed by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communiction, Ugochukwu Okoroafor, was emphatic that Dr. Yaro was not hired by the CBN because of her alleged romantic relationship with the CBN governor.
While the statement insisted that the bank would not respond to the ‘libelous comments’ contained in the post which bordered on the person of the CBN Governor and his relationship with Yaro, it nonetheless tackled other issues relating to whether due process was followed in bringing her to the CBN.
Using various documents which he attached to make his case, Okoroafor said: “Our attention has been drawn to the libelous story posted on your website on 2nd June, 2013, on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and which has now been circulated by other online websites and blogging groups. The post was full of fabrication and inaccuracies. Ordinarily this would have been best ignored. We are however constrained to write to you on account of the severe implications of the allegations for the integrity of the CBN, as an institution.”
The letter went on to state that the CBN has a “long-standing commitment to due process and international best practice in the discharge of every aspect of our statutory mandate.” Okoroafor also said in the letter that the CBN is an equal opportunity employer, “which prides itself with having female members of staff that possess the highest qualifications, competencies and skills. It is rather reprehensible for anyone to cast such aspersions on the qualifications and integrity of our female staff.”
“In the publication, you made the following false allegations: That Dr. Maryam Yaro is a staff of the CBN at the level of Assistant Director and that she was recruited without due process, as she was not qualified for the role. That the CBN Governor introduced Dr. Yaro to the CBN and exerted pressure on the Human Resources Department to recruit her.
“We wish to state the fact as follows: Dr. Maryam Yaro is not, and has never been an employee of the Central Bank of Nigeria. She was one of four consultants (three of whom were male), hired by the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Plc; on a one year contract, renewable on the basis of satisfactory performance. NIRSAL Plc is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through a partnership between the CBN and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
“In the course of establishing NIRSAL, the Hon. Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, through a formal letter, recommended Dr. Yaro to participate in the project as a Specialist on Rural Finance Access. Dr. Yaro was hired after a rigorous selection process conducted by the NIRSAL Project Implementation Office. This clearly contradicts the claim that Dr. Yaro was brought in by the CBN Governor.
“Contrary to allegation that the Governor expedited recruitment of Dr. Yaro, the PIO’s recommendation to hire her as a Consultant was written on March 30, 2012 but only received final approval on June 20, 2012. It is pertinent to add that Dr. Yaro’s academic qualifications and experience eminently qualify her for the job. She is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), who speaks three Nigerian languages, and has extensive experience working with farmers across the country on different agricultural programmes. She has also been a consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); and was one of the experts working in the National Programme on Food Security before she was engaged by NIRSAL,” said the CBN Communications Director.
Okoroafor expressed hope that Premium Times would give as much publicity to the bank’s clarifications as it gave to the initial story, while also expressing resolve that the bank would continue to pursue “its statutory mandates regardless of any attempt to distract the institution or its officers.”